Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Magical Mystery Tour

A fellow witer Patricia Rockwell is having a Virtual Book Tour of her book Sounds of Murder. This is more of a question/answer session with the author than an actual book review.

  1. Hi, Patricia, thanks for stopping by on your virtual book tour for your new cozy mystery Sounds of Murder. Is this your first book?

    Yes, it’s my first attempt at fiction, although I’ve written an academic research book and several textbooks that are now out of print.

  2. I notice that I am the only male host on your tour. Does your book only appeal to women?

    Chris, I surely hope not. Cozy mysteries typically feature female main characters doing the sleuthing, but there’s no law about it. Men have read Sounds of Murder and told me they liked it. Of course, as a cozy mystery, it doesn’t have any graphic violence, explicit language, or gratuitous sex. But I think men will enjoy the mystery aspect of the story and will try to figure out who the killer is just as much as women.

  3. Do you write or do you like to write other genres of fiction besides mysteries?

    I prefer to read mysteries—mostly cozy mysteries, so I guess that’s why I only want to write cozy mysteries.

  4. What’s the book about?

    The book is all about Associate Professor of Psychology Pamela Barnes, who never envisioned herself a detective. But when she finds her department’s star professor and top grant producer Charlotte Clark strangled to death with headphone cords in the department’s state-of-the-art experimental computer lab, she feels compelled to track down the killer. Who could it be? The list is long, because, although Charlotte is nationally famous, she is despised by all her colleagues for her nastiness and her over-bearing manner. Pamela feels torn, because she did not like Charlotte any better than her colleagues did, but driven to find the murderer because she was the one who found Charlotte’s body. When Pamela discovers that the actual sounds of Charlotte’s strangulation have been recorded on a spectrogram on the lab’s Master Control panel, she makes a copy of it and begins a surreptitious attempt to analyze the sounds she hears. As she listens to Charlotte’s agonizing choking sounds, she also detects a strange double clicking noise—a noise that occurs after Charlotte’s death gasps have ceased. Could these clicking sounds be a clue to the killer? As Pamela’s questioning of and curiosity about various faculty members intensifies, she worries that she may inadvertently alert the killer to her suspicions. As she fears, Pamela’s insistent questioning leads her to an unexpected confrontation with the killer.

  5. It sounds exciting and fun. Is it?

    I think it is, Chris, but, of course, I wrote it so I’m a bit partial.

  6. I think maybe I heard about your book. Wasn’t there a trailer for it that got some notoriety?

    Yes, fortunately—or rather unfortunately. I made a short book trailer one night sitting on my bed with my digital camera. It only took about a few minutes and, on a lark, I submitted it to the Moby Book Trailer competition in the "Least Likely to Sell a Book" category. I really never expected anything to come of the entry, but, to my surprise—it won. Not much of an honor, as it says more about my horrible videography skills than it does about the book—or at least I hope it does. I recently uploaded a more polished version, so if you check it out online you won’t see the original which was truly awful.

  7. So you’ll stick to writing and give up your aspirations of becoming a filmmaker?

    Definitely. Making book trailers is a task best left to professionals.

  8. What made you decide to write Sounds of Murder and do you have any advice for new writers?

    Chris, I spent most of my career as a university professor (much like my heroine in Sounds of Murder) and I had to do a lot of academic writing for publication. Also, I worked as an editorial assistant for several years for one of the major Communication journals and also as an editor of a regional journal for eight years—so writing, editing, and publishing are in my blood. However, while I was working and before I retired, I couldn’t really write what I wanted to write—mysteries. Now that I’m retired, I’m free to write exactly what I want—and that’s what I’m doing. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. There are a lot of similarities with the academic writing I used to do and I rely on my experience in that domain. There are also differences. I never had to create a plot or characters or write dialogue in my previous type of writing—so there’s been a huge learning curve there. But I think I’m getting better.

  9. Will we be seeing any more books from Patricia Rockwell?

    Oh, yes. Next summer, my second cozy mystery, and Pamela Barnes’ second murder case—entitled tentatively Radio Murder—will be out. I also have a third in the Pamela Barnes’ series planned and will be working on that one this year.

  10. Where can we get copies of Sounds of Murder?

    From the typical online sources—Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com for print copies, and Amazon.com for Kindle versions and Smashwords.com for other electronic versions.

Friday, August 27, 2010

F2: Syrian Beans

Welcome again to Friday's Feast. Today I'll be sharing one of my recipes.

With inspirations from Mrs. Mackinac…

My wife makes this one a lot. We even have a friend of the family who is Assyrian who is familiar with this recipe… so it must be authentic. Serves 4-6.

Syrian Beans:
2 C Macaroni
3 C Water
½ lb of Ground Beef
½ Medium Yellow Onion
1 14.5 oz can of Whole Pealed Tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can of Green Beans
4 oz Cheddar Cheese
  1. Into a medium sauce pan add the macaroni and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low.
  3. While the macaroni is cooking… add the ground beef to a large frying pan on medium heat.
  4. Peel and chop the onions into small sized pieces and add to the meat.
  5. Add the onions to the frying pan and continue to cook until transparent.
  6. In a separate bowl, crush the tomatoes.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the pan.
  8. Drain then add the green beans.
  9. Stir all the ingredients together for five minutes to guarantee they are well cooked.
  10. Remove pan from the heat
    you can serve into a serving dish if you do not want to serve out of the pan.
  11. Drain the macaroni and place into a separate bowl
    you can add butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking together if you like.
  12. Shred the cheddar cheese into a separate bowl.
  13. Serve by combining the macaroni with the contents of the pan and cover with cheddar cheese.
  14. Enjoy

1 If you don't know what Friday's Feast is all about, please read the Friday's Feast page for a more detailed explanation. If you want to join in on the feast— be sure to leave a comment and include the URL to your post so I and others can know of your contribution. Also, if you want to see a particular topic— feel free to suggest it as well (I'm always looking for new inspirations).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Attraction Factors

So often we try to figure out what is it about that person that we are attracted to. I have found that there are three different factors that come into play when we determine attraction: Striking, Double-take, and Charming factors.

Striking Factor
Anything that catches your eye can be considered a part of the striking factor. These are not only the physical attributes– the broad shoulders, the curve of the waist, etc.… but also the non-physical attributes– "he's so funny", "she's so confident", etc.
Double-take Factor
Something that makes you look again can be considered part of the double-take factor. People who have a high double-take factor have something about them that makes them more attractive than the first time around. You may not even have a high striking factor, but wind up having a high double-take factor.
Charming Factor
This is the factor that keeps your interest– "I can't keep my eyes off of him", "she always looks great". It does not even need to be something physical– "what is it about him that is so fascinating", "I always enjoy being around her".

I do not think that these three factors are directly related and can be viewed independently. However, when determining someone's attractiveness, you need to look at all three factors to get a full picture of their overall charisma.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gone Away

Before you start thinking that this is a Being Out Of Blogging (BOOB) message— I assure you that it is not. This was posted by a Friend in Facebook and I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and post it here since it also gets posted there. I don't like chain letters, much like I don't like the kinds of Memes that tell you to tag people. So, if you feel like participating you can… otherwise, enjoy:


  1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
  2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
  4. Tag 20 friends
  5. Everyone tagged has to do the same thing.
  6. Have Fun!

All I Want (The Offspring)

Operators Are Standing By (They Might Be Giants)

Me By The Sea (Edie Brikell & The New Bohemians)

Kissing the Lipless (The Shins)

Maybe I know (They Might Be Giants)

Channel Z (The B-52's)

Twist And Crawl (The English Beat)

Psycho Killer (Talking Heads)

This Eye (Edie Birk ell & The New Bohemians)

Dark And Metric (They Might Be Giants)

Highway Blues (Mark Seals)

Shu Zulu Za (Poi Dog Pondering)

Honky Cat (Elton John)

Language (Suzanne Vega)

Shake (P.M. Dawn)

Black Coffee In Bed (Squeeze)

Is That Love (Squeeze)

Counterfeit Faker (They Might Be Giants)

Reprehensible (They Might Be Giants)

Gone Away (The Offspring)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

This past weekend I went to see the film Eat, Pray, Love. This is not your typical "Chick Flick" in that many of the feelings and situations are not reserved for women alone. Our main character feels lost in her life. The things that she has pursued hold no meaning for her, she feels out of touch spiritually, and feels that her relationships are a compromise at best. Our character decides to take a year to "find herself" and visit Italy, India, and Bali. Each location that our character visits reflects key points of the title:

One would think that going to Italy, all the character would do is eat. Whereas eating was a main part of this portion of the journey— it is the experience of eating that needed to be examined. How often do we just mindlessly eat and never bother to enjoy what we are eating, or enjoy those to whom we are sharing a meal with. The scene that I enjoyed a lot was the one where the main character had a Thanksgiving meal on her last night together with all of her new found friends. At one point, she asks someone how long the turkey had to go to which they replied that they had not even thawed it yet. We later find a scene where all of the friends are crashed out on the chairs and couches (much like you would find after a heavy meal) and an alarm goes off. Our character then gets up and goes to the oven where we find the turkey is now done. They finish the scene carving the turkey and enjoying their final meal together.
We open this part of the journey with our main character in a taxi traveling through a busy street scene in India. The entire scene is chaotic and jumbled with many things happening at the same time. Once our character arrives at the spiritual camp, she finds that the guru is not there but rather in New York where she came from. She is shown the camp and where she can go to meditate. During her attempts at meditating she becomes frustrated and unable to meditate at all. She meets a man from Texas who seems to be more of a spiritual leader than the guru she came to see. He appears cross and rude— which may be the kind of leading that she needs. After the man from Texas leaves the camp, our character is asked to be a guide for several new devotees just arriving. She is told that she cannot meditate, but rather should watch over the new devotees as they are meditating. This reminds me of the portion of the movie Woodstock, where the withdrawal patient is then shown another person coming into the clinic and is told: "they were just like you three hours ago. You are now the doctor and they are now your patient, get to work". It is at this point where she finally is enlightened and understands the meaning of her spiritual journey.
This is the theme of the movie that seems to come full circle. Whereas our main character files for divorce in the beginning of the movie and has a brief affair with another man before heading on her journey— there appear to be no men in her life in the first two portions of her journey. In the beginning of the movie she is in Bali interviewing a medicine man. His advice to her during that initial interview is what compels her on her journey and brings her back to the medicine man on its final leg. Once back in Bali, the medicine man tells her to try and maintain balance between all of the lessons she has learned so far. To not stray too far spiritually, and not to stray too far in the enjoyment of life. She meets a man in Bali and struggles between trying to maintain balance between the man she has fallen in love with and her lessons she has vowed to continue to practice. She breaks off the relationship for fear that she has dedicated herself too much to the relationship and has neglected the other lessons she has struggled to find over the past year of her journey. On her final consultation with the medicine man he indicates that it is OK to lose yourself in love since that is the glue that holds all the other lessons together. She reconciles with the man she fell in love with and we find ourselves coming full circle as well as starting a new beginning.

The movie is well worth going to see because many of us experience the same doubts and fears regarding our place in the world and how we relate not only to the world around us, but those people that we have encountered along our own journey in life.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spin Cycle: Wedding Disasters

This weeks spin cycle is about weddings. I thought I would spin it up a bit and talk about wedding successes or disasters depending upon your point of view.

I have noticed that at many weddings I have attended that there are certain situations and/or people that usually accompany those weddings. I would have highlighted those things that happened at my wedding, but I figured I would just list them (even if they didn't happen at my wedding) so you can say it happened at your wedding too.

I will try my best at listing them in the order of the ceremony as well as be discrete so as not to offend too much. Much like a party is not successful unless the police arrive— many weddings might not be successful unless some, if not all of these occur:

Someone in the wedding party must faint…
Someone in our wedding party nearly fainted, but I must admit that I was the one who had the fainting spell at my sister's wedding. I must have locked my knees because I started feeling dizzy half way through the ceremony. I had the frame of mind to step off the stage and sit down. Unfortunately I missed the breaking of the glass, but at least I didn't fall down.
Someones always late…
I know that everyone seemed to show up on time for our wedding, but I have heard that loud click of the door when someone was trying to sneak into the church.
The photographer does something stupid…
Yes I know that photographing the moment is important— but why then do you have to have your gigantic tripod blocking the aisle.
You never can find "so and so" for the family photo…
Enough said.
There's always some obnoxious drunk relative at the reception…
Given that many weddings do not have alcohol this may not always be the case— so just an obnoxious relative will do here as well.
The DJ or band fails miserably…
I have seen many a wedding where the DC decides they are done for the evening and leave early. I have seen other times when you request a song and they never play it. One would think that if they have it in their repertoire and you are the groom that they should honor that request.
Someone gets hurt on the dance floor…
I wouldn't say that I actually got hurt, but I did rip my shoes at my Step-son's wedding because I was sliding across the dance floor on my knees. I'll save that story about our dance floor for another post.
There's something wrong with the cake…
Our wedding cake was so delicious that the staff decided to serve the topper. We spent a good hour the next morning looking through the kitchen to see where they may have kept the top of the cake— but later found out that it all was served. Oh well, there probably wasn't room in our freezer anyway.
There's never enough coffee…
I just hate it when the wait staff decides that everybody gets just one cup with the cake and then disappear. I threatened that I would bring my own pot and start brewing at the head table if that happened at ours.

small cycle

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